To politely say I’m tired of the Kevin Love talk is understating it.
First, he pulls out of an MLB celebrity softball game under the guise that he might have been booed, since the game was being played next door from the gym he plays in. Then last week Love announces he’s pulling out of playing with Team USA, reportedly “because of his current status.”
Huh? He’s still under contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves for another year. He’s not a LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony, two players who were eligible for free agency.
Love is not a franchise player, either. Whether he gets traded before the season or before the mid-season trading deadline next winter, or simply walks away when his current contract comes up for renewal after next season, the forward has to prove that he’s more than a stat filler.
Why talk about a player on a perennial losing team who hasn’t yet put a championship banner up in the rafters and not talk about the Twin Cities’ winningest pro team of this decade that has put up two such banners in the same arena — the Minnesota Lynx, who last week clinched its fourth consecutive playoff berth.
“I think people don’t understand how hard it is to defend a championship,” noted Lynx guard Seimone Augustus.
Why not instead talk about possibly one of the WNBA’s greatest-ever second halves of the regular season, where with less than a dozen games remaining, nine teams still are in playoff contention for the remaining six spots?
“Every year, teams and players get better,” admitted Augustus. “The [West-leading] Phoenix team we played last year is not the same team this year. We can go down the line on the teams that have gotten better.”
Her All-Star and USA teammate Maya Moore nearly scored half of Wilt Chamberlain’s historic 100 points in the July 23 Minnesota-Atlanta double-overtime contest. Augustus told the MSR that she basically told Moore before the season to take her rightful place among the league’s elite.
“She is one of the better players on this team. Why not step up and show people?” continued Augustus on Moore, who won consecutive weekly player honors in July, totaling eight in her four pro seasons. “Maya is very hard on herself — no one can be as hard on her as she is on herself. She just wants to get better as a player.”
The double-overtime contest also was a bonafide classic, a statement game for the ages. Both teams played at a post-season intensity pace, with only the winning home team’s final four-point lead finally proving a safe one.
“That very well could be a preview of the finals,” declared Atlanta Assistant Coach Karleen Thompson afterwards. She spent 12 years in the WNBA, including being the final head coach of the Houston Comets and a Los Angeles assistant coach on two title-winning clubs in 2001 and 2002.
“I was part of the league since day one,” said Thompson in a brief MSR interview afterwards. “There were great players then, but these types of games help the future of the league. These women can play.
“This is one of those types of games that people want to see,” she surmised. “It showed what type of talent [and] what we are going to see night in, night out.”
“People don’t want to see 20-point leads,” added Minnesota guard Tan White, a 10-year veteran.
Beginning this Thursday, the Lynx have eight regular-season games remaining. “We want to get to be playing our best basketball at the right time,” concluded Augustus.
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